As Energy Prices Soar,
U.S. Industries Collide
Dow Chemical Pushes
Limits on Other Firms,
But Customers Push Back
By JEFFREY BALL
November 8, 2007; Page A1
MIDLAND, Mich. -- Nearly a year ago, with his company reeling from rising energy prices,
stand that turned heads in Washington. He called for tougher fuel-economy requirements for auto makers -- b
goods from Dow each year.
The move was as rational as it was risky. Dow figured that limiting oil usage by cars would ease price pressu
vast quantities to feed its factories. Dow also reasoned that if car makers were forced to improve mileage, the
that can make vehicles go farther on a gallon of fuel.
In the global push to curb energy consumption, Mr. Liveris noted earlier this year, "someone wins, someone
DOW CHEMICAL INTERVIEW
"Someone wins, someone loses. [That] is a default position you get to pretty quick."
-- Dow Chemic
Read more from his interview with The Wall Street Journal.
The designated loser, however, was livid. "I called my buddy at Dow and said, 'What the -- are you doing?'"
auto maker. Faced with the outcry from that industry, Dow backed down, and this summer withdrew its supp
So it goes in the sector-by-sector jousting over what to do about America's voracious energy appetite, which
price. Yesterday, crude-oil futures on the New York Mercantile Exchange reached a new intraday high of $98
$96.37. Amid mounting pressure to curb fossil-fuel use -- both to ease the price run-up and to address climate
will bear the burden and who might win the spoils.
The auto and oil industries are at each other's throats, with Detroit saying the oil industry should install more
Detroit should make cars that are more efficient. Renewable-energy producers are arguing over who qualifies
producers of U.S. biodiesel, traditionally made from soybeans, are fighting a joint bid by oil giant
for access to a credit for "renewable diesel" fuel they would make from animal fat.
Meanwhile, members of the U.S. Climate Action Partnership -- 27 big companies that are trying to shape a fe
inevitable -- disagree over the details of what that constraint should look like. The problem: Each company u
wants to tweak any emissions rule to its own particular advantage.
Microcosm of Tensions
Dow Chemical is a microcosm of these tensions. It calls itself the world's biggest industrial
quantities of natural gas and oil it uses, some for fuel but most as a raw material. For years,
its plants more efficient. Despite that effort, soaring energy prices have nearly tripled Dow'
comes to $22 billion a year -- nearly half the company's production and operating costs.
Now Dow is pushing for national policies that would prod other industries to curb their con